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Lionel Messi scores, Argentina brushes aside Canada, waltzes into Copa América final

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The decisive moment of Argentina’s penultimate step toward a Copa América repeat was just like the rest of the climb: simple.

It wasn’t easy. The Argentines had to work, and think, and sweat here at MetLife Stadium on a steamy Tuesday night, in the first of two Copa semifinals. They had to stomach the occasional early scare.

But they brushed aside Canada, 2-0, to reach Sunday’s final. Their clincher was perhaps the most subtle, plain goal Lionel Messi will ever score, his first of the tournament. And their breakthrough, midway through the first half, was straightforward — literally.

It required only two passes, from center back to central midfielder, then central midfielder to center forward. The first, from Cristian Romero to Rodrigo De Paul, was harmless. But the second found Argentina’s Canada killer, Julián Álvarez.

His first touch was excellent. His second left Canadian defender Moïse Bombito on the grass. His third beat goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, and put Argentina ahead.

It was Álvarez who had broken through three weeks earlier, when these two teams met in the 2024 Copa América opener. On that night in Atlanta, Canada lasted 48 minutes. Here, it lasted only 22.

In those 22 minutes, the underdogs were frisky. They detected openings. They sprung forward on the counter. They threatened.

But they didn’t quite have the quality to pounce on opportunities. And once they conceded, they were toast.

Messi, with a classic feint and a right-footed shot, nearly buried the Reds right before halftime.

Some five minutes after halftime, he did bury them.

He got off the mark at the 2024 Copa América, ironically, with one of the most Cristiano Ronaldo goals of his glittering career. He slid a pass to De Paul. He continued his run. After some penalty-box pinball, he stabbed his foot at an Enzo Fernandez shot, and half-poked, half-caressed it into the net.

He glanced at the assistant referee, unsure whether he was onside. But he was, so he gently leapt into Enzo’s arms, and felt a feeling he hadn’t felt in a competitive Argentina game since October.

He had looked relatively pedestrian in three prior 2024 Copa América games. And frankly, Argentina had as well.

La Albiceleste looked vulnerable in that opener against Canada. They needed a late and lucky Lautaro Martinez goal to beat Chile. They rested starters in a meaningless group finale against Peru. They then needed a penalty shootout — and a heroic goalkeeper, Emiliano Martínez — to survive Ecuador in the quarterfinals.

So they entered this semifinal as unproven as a world champion can be. At times, they seemed to lack attacking ideas.

But they had enough to beat Canada again; they were occasionally sloppy but sufficient.

They have had enough to reach a third consecutive major tournament final, where they’ll meet their first mighty opponent of the summer, either Colombia or Uruguay.

Whether they have proved anything yet isn’t all that relevant. They are 90 minutes away from another title.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER40 updates
  • Featured

    FULL TIME: Argentina 2-0 Canada

    22′ Julián Álvarez scores after a sweet assist from Rodrigo De Paul.

    51′ Lionel Messi scores his first goal of the tournament off an assist from Enzo Fernandez.

  • 89′ Dibu with the save!

  • 88′ Nahuel Molina booked

    Molina gets a yellow card.

  • 79′ Ismael Kone booked

  • 71′ Jonathan Osorio replaces Alphonso Davies

  • 63′ Eustaquio booked

 

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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship

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Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game

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Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City

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Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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